Twenty-three years ago this week, I met John Lewis. Our first date was on July 3, 1990. We went to a patriotic concert at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. The military band played selections from the Saint Saens Organ Symphony and other patriotic music. We sang the National Anthem and I heard his beautiful bass voice sing for the first time. We went to dinner afterwards up in the canyon at Ruth’s Diner. We talked a lot. We had friends in common. He knew the names of things like plants and music. In the car he sang along with Barbara Streissand’s Classical album in perfect French. He spoke German and was gainfully employed. I was 31. He was 36. He was tall and had a beautiful smile. He was a gentleman. It was an easy and comfortable first date.
I didn’t sleep that night. I didn’t know if I’d see him again, but I suspected I would. The day before he’d called to ask me out, I purchased my first home. On the morning after our first date, July 4th, 1990, I plunged my laundry, then went shopping for furniture with my mom, who was visiting from California. That evening when we returned, the phone rang. It was John. He wanted to know if I would join him for a July 4th BBQ with his family. I was leaving town the next day for a 3 week trip with my mom, but I dropped everything and went to spend the evening with him. the next morning I caught a flight to the east coast.
Here are a couple of paragraphs from my July 12, 1990 journal. I was sitting on a bus traveling cross-country in a rain storm:
I sat at the window watching rain drops pushed diagonally across my window while the world blurred by behind them. I thought about how the drops picked up water beads as they went along, each addition adding to the mass, and speeding it’s trip across the glass. I was fascinated as I watched them, and an hour must have gone my while I sat, engrossed. Sometimes two drops would be traveling, side by side, and with all my heart, I would find my self trying to will them together, so they could join, and really fly. Sometimes they did join, but sometimes they slowly crept side by side, unaware of the other. The thing that fascinated me was that once two drops joined, their speed more than doubled. Once connected, they were off–gone,–their progress was multiplied many times over.
Then like a bolt of lightening, the thought came to my mind: this is how marriage should be. Two individuals going through life, accumulating experiences, and then, in an instant, their paths cross, and they join, and there is absolutely no holding them back. As those thoughts came, there were feelings of eternal significance in the simple lesson I learned, and, of course, my wonderings turned to John, and it was sort of as if I saw our lives–as two drops making good progress by accumulating good things, but the real speed in our lives hasn’t come yet. Then I wondered “is this a sign or something? Where are these thoughts coming from? Is this something I need to be listening to so I can apply it somehow?” Then the feelings of being overwhelmed with big-time-Hollywood-actually-could-this-be-IT rushed in and for the first time in what seemed like hours, I quickly focused on the greenery out the window behind the drops, and sort of caught my breath for awhile.
It was during this week, 23 years ago that the fireworks began. And they have pretty much continued ever since. Three months later we were married. I’ve enjoyed the memories this week as we’ve watched several displays of fireworks. I like to think some of them were in honor of our first meeting, and some are celebrating the joyful years ahead.
July 3 Utah Symphony outdoor concert at Thanksgiving Point.
July 4 Stadium of Fire at BYU with the kids.